Masks not mandatory on Edmonton transit, in public indoors: council
EDMONTON -- Edmonton city council says masks will not be mandatory in public indoor spaces, unless cases of COVID-19 spike dramatically.
At an emergency advisory meeting Thursday, council discussed the possibility of making masks mandatory on public transit.
While the city doesn't have data on the exact number of transit users wearing masks, Ward 1 Coun. Andrew Knack says he has heard from riders that "far less than half" are wearing them.
"Members were feeling uncomfortable going back to transit because it was not being used on a wide-spread basis," said Knack.
"It's easy to say mandatory, but there are a number people either with medical conditions or age or disabilities that are not able to don a mask, so how do you manage that situation?" asked interim city manager Adam Laughlin.
"Are they then not permitted to ride transit?"
Laughlin told council enforcement would be difficult with the resources available, and it would put a lot of pressure on ETS drivers.
"It becomes challenging for them to understand what's legitimate or not," said Laughlin.
He pointed to the decision in the City of Toronto making masks mandatory indoors and on public transportation.
"You can make it mandatory, but if you're not going to enforce it, is it really mandatory?" said Laughlin.
According to Dr. Chris Sikora with Alberta Health Services, transit has not been identified as a significantly high-risk environment.
"We're OK where we're at," said Dr. Sikora.
"For now we will continue to encourage Edmontonians to wear masks, but we're not in a position to mandate it," said Mayor Don Iveson.
However, if COVID-19 cases increased rapidly, council could pass a bylaw to make masks mandatory on public transit across the city.
Currently masks are "highly recommended" on Edmonton transit, and the city provides masks at key transit centres when available.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson